TODAY -

The Walking Lady : A Short Story

NC Khumancha *

 Taj Mahal, Agra, India - 2007
Taj Mahal, Agra, India - 2007 :: Pix - WT



It was a fine early morning in Agra and around the Taj Mahal. Many were walking in pairs on the wide road of Agra towards the Taj Mahal. I was walking alone as my daily routine. There was also, a single lady walking at my opposite right hand side of the road that day. I used to meet her most of the time since about two months. She peeped at me through the crowd as I did the same to her.

It regularly happened for about two months to meet her in the morning walking. Her walking shoe, a cap on the head, a bit tied salwar showing the nice constricted waist pause, her long face, pointed nose, wide eyes, enough height, nice lean posture, all revealed her as the beautiful lady. I was never absent from my regular walking she was too, doing the same. That day, it was my returning but hers proceeding towards the Taj Mahal.

Any way, we had to meet at a coconut selling shop. People of Agra used to target towards the Taj Mahal at their morning walking from all directions. The tomb was the meeting point of all walkers. After crossing with the lady I knew she came that day a bit late because it happened seldom crossing that way on the road. In any case, we met at a point where we used to drink a tender coconut juice at our concluding session of walking everyday as it gave us refreshed and useful for health.

That day, as she was a bit late I had to wait for her as she had waited for me before about two four times. It was an inner understanding between us. But we had never talked any word one another but looking one another only. I didn't know who she was and what she was and guessed only she was a married one as she always put little vermilion on her forehead at the hair edge. We had never introduced one another but became very friendly in our doings.

I became worried of absence from walking for she might have waited for me at the coconut juice shop. Because I too, did one day when she was absent from walking. I waited her that day for about an hour and came back with declined mood as she didn't come that day. I felt sorry for that might happen to her too. So, I always tried to be regular at my walking if I had not tied schedule.

Once I had a tied schedule which the next day I had to be absent from my walking. I told the coconut juice seller one day ahead about my schedule the next day so as the seller might tell the lady about my absence from walking. It was my guess I didn't know whether he would tell the lady about my absence. But my intention was he would accidentally or suspiciously or knowingly tell about me if she would wait for me there as usual.

I didn't know whether the coconut juice seller had any suspicion about two of us. It was all my one sided dream about her. I didn't know clearly anything about her and her intention. I didn't know also clearly whether she had really waited for me at the coconut juice shop because we had never talked one another. It was all my assumption. I didn't know even her name.

The next day, after I broke one day walking I eagerly started my walking hoping I would meet her as usual. I looked my wrist watch lifting the left hand and knew her usual time was right then. I looked front and back through the crowd far and near standing at the road side. She could not be seen. I approached towards the Taj Mahal hoping she would be there. As I had eagerness only for her my steps were faster that day.

I was disappointed as I had not seen her there. I consoled myself as she might have not been come yet. I looked back hoping her coming. She was not there. I stayed for a while by the gate of the Taj Mahal. After a while in my sense a thought came about her coming earlier that day and returning than waiting for me at the coconut juice shop. Immediately I was returning towards the shop with high speed steps.

It was true she was at the shop sitting on a chair. A straw was in her hand used for sucking the juice, but coconut fruit was not there by her. It revealed she had had her juice a bit long time ago. She was waiting for someone. I took that was I myself. As I reached the shop she peeped at me sometime and turned away her face then smiled a bit looking somewhere else.

She was still sitting and I took a coconut juice and sucked in with the straw as usual. At my ending of sucking she stood and started moving towards her home just after looking around with a little smile. I felt proud as I had done a great job of quenching the thirst of my walking lady and the same to me.

It was in my lonesome room. I was dreaming about the walking lady. How we had become so closed one another without any relationship. I didn't know how she did take me, as a foreigner, Agra shopkeepers sometimes spoke to me in English as I was a foreigner. Some of them asked me whether I was a Chinese or some others took me as Japanese. Likewise, the lady took me as a foreigner and showing the receptive Indian manner.

Or she had flirted with me. A lot of questions came in mind thinking about her. Whether I should introduce myself and begin making friendship was further question to myself without any suitable resolution. It was a raining day. Few people turned out for the walking. I thought a few moments of my walking and suddenly came to my mind what about her. I resolved to walk thinking if I didn't go she would wait for me at the coconut shop and make her trouble in that rainy day. So, I took an umbrella and advanced towards the Taj Mahal. People were very few that day. I thought whether she would be there among the few people.

I looked around far and near places she was not seen. Anyway I advanced to the destination. She was there near the gate of the Taj Mahal looking towards my way side. I knew she was looking for me. My assumption was right she would not be absent from walking because of rain. As soon as she had seen me she began returning towards the coconut shop. I followed her not far behind.

After about fifteen minute we gathered at the coconut shop. She was at the right side while I was at the left facing each other looking each other now and then. The seller served her first the coconut juice as she had occupied first the seat and next to me. Inserting the straw I looked at her at the same time she was also looking at me eye to eye sucking the juice. She turned away a bit her face and smiled. I too, did the same.

It was another fine morning. The sky was clear as the clean water. The sun was trying to climb up the vast sky as usual from the eastern edge of the earth. His light had already climbed up in advance as his body guard. Early raisers had begun their daily moving towards the Taj Mahal. I too, was opening the gate and started looking around the street if the lady was seen. Not seen around the reach of my eye sight, started to proceed towards the Taj as usual.

Stepped with narrow steps thinking she might not come yet as the day was a bit early. Suddenly, in front of mine, a resemble figure of the lady was walking with a gentleman. That day she wore a nice track suit with a new walking shoe that was very congenial dress to her. They two put on the same dress but different color. I slowed down my steps and followed them. It came in mind as I had misidentified the lady.

After a while she looked back and we were eye to eye. It was not mistaken she was she. I was a bit nervous what I had to do. They were continuing as they were not so fast. I stepped up and walked passing them at the side of the gentleman. I felt she looked at me. I walked ahead pretending not seen them. My heart felt a bit uneasy. After touching the gate of the Taj I returned as usual.

I saw them at the right side crossing the road. I started to think for my next action what I should do. Anyway, I stopped at the coconut shop and ordered for the juice. Sucking the juice my mind was on her. Then my next action was to wait for her and her gentleman as usual. It came to my mind though a bit late whether the gentleman was her husband or brother or someone else. I was troubled myself thinking all about her.

Whatever it might be I had waited for them. Not so later they came to the shop. I felt a bit shame. They occupied a two seated table at close range of my seat. She faced towards me and the gentleman slightly back to me. They took two juice and started talking about their plan. She asked him when his returning day would be. He replied the day of his returning to Canada.

The lady too, told about her inability that time to go with him for her leave was not allowed from the college as some of her English department teachers had on leave. I could realize she had done all those talking was the information to me about her introduction which was pending long between us. All their bedroom conversations were at the shop so as the vital information passing to me.

On the other hand, I believed she tried to make known to me she would be alone again as her husband's returning day had been revealed at our conference in the shop. My eagerness of her identity and her marital status had been revealed clearly.

I was lighthearted to know about her through her revelation through her husband in the shop. But how to reveal about myself was my resolution but it was uneasy as I had not known to her motive of closeness to me. I was still suspicious though we seemed so closed one another. I thought she had been waiting for my first words to her to take any chance whether positive or negative goal. I had to be careful in any case.

It always came in my mind about trapping some men by women vice versa. Thus, I was always powerless though we seemed so closed one another. By the by, my M. A. final year examination as a private candidate in English subject under Agra University had been completed and I planned to go back through Delhi dropping two four days meeting friends.

The day of the lady's husband flying from Agra was the same as I too, had booked earlier. He too, might have to drop in Delhi or transfer the plain. My departing day from Agra came. I arranged everything for my journey giving gratitude to the owner and family members of the rented room and other room occupiers of the house. I reached the airport at 9 a.m. and looked around for the lady and her gentleman. I thought she would surely see off her gentleman.

I was right she and her gentleman had already in the waiting porch occupying their seats. I proceeded close to them occupied a seat pretending as I hadn't seen them. Ringing my mobile phone I looked round she had already peeped at me. I too, looked at her pretending as suddenly seeing her with wide eyes. We were eye to eye sometime. Meanwhile her gentleman took permission from her to be to the washroom.

She looked me back and seemed nod a bit her head as asking where I too, was going. I smiled a bit and looked down. Announcement for entrance to the security check came as her gentleman also came out of the washroom. I stood up and started towards the door of the security room. Her gentleman too, did the same. Her husband was in about two four persons ahead of me in queue.

Her husband looked back and waved to his spouse and entered the door. As my turn came I too, at a sudden looked back and saw the lady waved at me too, smiling and I too, waved smilingly then entered. I flew towards Delhi seeing her last smile and the only wave of us at our thoroughly about four month silent friendship.


* NC Khumancha wrote this Story for e-pao.net
The article was provided by Daniel Chabungbam, a frequent contributor to e-pao.net
This article was webcasted on January 11, 2019.



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